Amanda Wilkinson (Essex) EHS Power Fellow

Invisible workers? The recording of women's occupations in the Victorian censuses

After completing her BA in History and Sociology in 2007, and her MA in Social and Cultural History in 2008, Amanda’s doctoral research, under the supervision of Professor Edward Higgs, examined the occupational enumeration of women in the nineteenth century censuses, in particular that of married, working-class women.  Her research has studied the life and work of women throughout East Anglia, both in towns and rural villages, and also that of women residing in London. She examined the suggestion that women’s work was under enumerated, and that the influence of separate spheres and male bias resulted in this under-enumeration.  Her findings are showing that, to the contrary, women’s work appears to be very well enumerated, with little evidence of the Victorian domestic ideology affecting the recording of female employment.

Her post-doctoral research is extending the geographical scope of her study, and examining the recording of women’s occupational enumeration across the whole of the south-east of England, 1851-1911, comparing her findings with that of her doctoral study and attempting to ascertain whether there are regional differences in recording, or whether the recording of women’s work in the census is less problematic than previously thought.



  • ‘The census enumeration of women working in the Courtauld silk mills, 1851-1901’, Local Population Studies, No.85, Autumn 2010.
  • Book Review: ‘The Oxford Companion to family and local history,’ Local Population Studies, No. 86, Spring 2011.

Conference Presentations

  • ‘Prostitution in Victorian London’, The annual conference of the Social History Society, 2011.